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Mammalogy at the Burke


Mammalogy is the study of mammals and their diversity and distribution on earth. Vertebrate animals (those with backbones) that have hair and produce milk for their newborns make up the class Mammalia. Over 5,400 living species of mammals are spread throughout all the earth's environments and make up 29 diverse orders, such as carnivores, whales, bats, rodents, and primates, to name just a few.

The Burke Museum's mammal collection consists of over 54,000 specimens and includes 70 species of carnivores, 140 bat species, 262 rodent species, 38 primate species, and 37 marine mammal species. Only a few of our specimens are on view in the museum galleries.

The mammalogy program develops and maintains its valuable collection and trains students in research that is based on the collection. For example, the techniques of molecular biology are used to investigate how mammals have responded to environmental change over the past several million years. Beyond this, it's possible to evaluate how human influences such as deforestation and global climate change are further affecting biodiversity.

The Burke also participates in a multi-museum mammal database (MaNIS).

Search the Mammology Database

Video ~ Studying tropical bats with Sharlene Santana
Sharlene Santana is an evolutionary biologist and the new curator of mammals here at the Burke Museum.
Video ~ Behind the Scenes: The Fin Whale
Curator Emeritus, Jim Kenagy, narrates the sinking of a deceased fin whale and subsequent underwater exploration to the same site.

Featured in Mammalogy


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Mammals of Washington

Learn all about the state's 141 species of mammals—their habits and habitats, what they eat, where they live, and more!

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Meet the Mammals

The Burke Museum’s exploration of the diversity of Earth's mammals.

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Biodiversity: The geography of genes

How does climate change affect Northwest mammals?